Author: Barnaby Porter

We’ve been having a little trouble out on the badminton court lately; the games have been getting a bit rowdy, and today’s equipment just doesn’t seem to stand up to our brand of badminton. The rackets are bending, the strings are snapping, and the shuttlecocks, or birdies, are either getting stuck in the racket strings or their little red rubber tips are falling off and getting walloped into the woods. It kind of breaks up the pace of the game when you have to keep stopping to fix stuff, and that’s no good when we have a ripsnorter going after supper on a mosquitoey evening. (…)

There has been a preponderance of flattened out rodents on the roads of late. Some are brown, some are gray, and some have quills, but they are all quite flat. It’s too bad. My suspicion is that, in their buck-toothed way, they are all victims of a spring wanderlust that is quite possibly connected to another kind of lust. (…)

I was talking on the phone with a book editor about a popular columnist who has written several books. “Oh, he’s good,” she said. “Everyone seems to like this his stuff, but God I wish he’d write about something else besides his damned dog!”

As I nodded stupidly in agreement, I was thinking, “You’d better overhaul your subject-selection process, Buster. Dogs aren’t a safe subject anymore.” And I wondered if that applied to kids as well. The two areas I have always thought of as “safe” were “Dogs” and “Kids.” With an idle remark, this professional shook my confidence in what had been a happily simple formula, and I have had to think it out.

There was a time when it was not at all uncommon to see kids chasing around after robins with saltshakers. At least that was the case in our yard. A lot of the kids I knew used to chase robins. All of us who did it were believers in the practice. All of us who tried threw our hearts into it on the best advice of those who presumably knew – our mothers.

Oh, they knew all right. Those were the days before anyone watched much television (if they even had one), when parents still had some influence on how kids wasted their time.

Waiting for spring to come is in many ways similar to watching a pot put on to boil. There’s the long period of finger drumming, of looking and listening for sure signs that something’s happening. But spring itself is more like the cat at the door; it’ll come in when it’s good and ready and not a minute sooner. You can stand there half your life holding the door open. Long waits can get pretty maddening though, and many’s the cat who’s had a door slammed in its face for taking too long.

About the full of the Moon, it is reported more babies are born than during the rest of the month. Dogs and werewolves have a glint in their eye and howl a lot. The tides swell to their maximum. Storms blow harder than ever, and cold weather streams down upon us with a vengeance. The full of the Moon is the time for extremes. At least on average that is what the records show. I have to agree it certainly seems so to me.
But one can wonder if what we interpret as extremes of weather and strange events are really that. Ringed as we are by “artificial” horizons, the trees and the hills and built-up skylines, I believe our perspective is foreshortened somewhat. Our lives are governed in large by our local circumstances – that old “can’t see the forest for the trees” effect. (…)

This post is contributed by Barnaby Porter from his archives. Read the previous post here. A friend from the past, Helen, decided to spend the winter alone in an old farmhouse. It was a long winter that year, with deep snow, sparkling days and moaning nights. She was in need of solitude, had things to think about and writing to do, and the farmhouse needed a caretaker to keep the place warm. It could have been, too, that certain farmhouse spirits were in need of company, which would have given meaning to the hex sign on the barn door. I …

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I recently took a walk one cold winter night, to commune with the night sky and gaze out into the Universe. I am much more aware of what’s up there at night than I am by day, which, on first examination doesn’t make as much sense as it ought to.

After all, if a body thinks about it, there is much more of the familiar world visible by the light of day; it’s what our eye is geared to: trees and water, mountains and clouds, the creatures of the Earth, the landscape. (…)

Every now and then a friend will remark, “I don’t like November much.” And I wonder, can this be a friend of mine who maligns another with so closed a mind, who writes off an entire month simply to feed a foul humor? November is a friend too, and I am uncomfortable with having to defend one against the other. So, I don’t.

One thing can be said for November: It is an honest month, hardworking and as earnest in it’s ready-making for winter as any could be. “And the eleventh will be (…)

I had my field tilled up this spring, its idle soil turned through and through. Nothing much has grown there for years and years, just daisies and hawkweed and some goldenrod. And grasses too, like timothy and orchard grass, and purple vetch and buttercups – the usual stuff of idle fields, along with worms and grasshoppers, mice and voles, garters and grass snakes. Rather a lot of things when I sum them up, but still it’s been quite a while since that ground saw much activity besides its annual mowing with attendant swallows swooping low for stirred-up insects and a handful of crows and the fox looking for bigger and better morsels. (…)